Taylor Swift’s Songs: All Ranked by Rob Sheffield – Rolling Stone
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All 129 of Taylor Swift’s Songs, Ranked

From teen country tracks to synth-pop anthems and rare covers, a comprehensive assessment of her one-of-a-kind songbook through ‘Reputation’ era

Taylor Swift the celebrity is such a magnet for attention, she can distract from Taylor Swift the artist. But Swift was a songwriter before she was a star, and she’ll be a songwriter long after she graduates from that racket. It’s in her music where she’s made her mark on history – as a performer, record-crafter, guitar hero and all-around pop mastermind, with songs that can leave you breathless or with a nasty scar. She was soaring on the level of the all-time greats before she was old enough to rent a car, with the crafty guile of a Carole King and the reckless heart of a Paul Westerberg – and she hasn’t exactly slowed down since then.

So with all due respect to Taylor the myth, the icon, the red-carpet tabloid staple, let’s celebrate the real Taylor – the songwriter she was born to be. Let’s break it down: all 115 tunes, counted from the bottom to the top. The hits, the flops, the deep cuts, the covers, from her raw 2006 debut as a teen country ingénue right up to Reputation. Every fan would compile a different list – that’s the beauty of it. But they’re not ranked by popularity, sales or supposed celebrity quotient – just the level of Taylor genius on display, from the perspective of a fan who generally does not give a rat’s nads who the songs are “really” about. All that matters is whether they’re about you and me. (I guarantee you are a more fascinating human than the Twilight guy, though I’m probably not.)

Sister Tay may be the last true rock star on the planet, making brilliant moves (or catastrophic gaffes, because that’s what rock stars do). These are the songs that sum up her wit, her empathy, her flair for emotional excess, her girls-to-the-front bravado, her urge to ransack every corner of pop history, her determination to turn any chorus into a ridiculous spectacle. So let’s step back from the image and pay homage to her one-of-a-kind songbook – because the weirdest and most fascinating thing about Taylor Swift will always be her music.

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Bad Blood” (2014)

Melodically parched, lyrically unfinished, rhythmically clunky – this was a mighty strange pick for a single from an album as loaded as 1989. There are a million things Taylor has in common with Paul McCartney – one is that celebrity grievances tend to sound like a penny-ante waste of their time, even when they’re totally understandable (unless you’re a fan of Macca’s “Dear Boy,” where John Lennon is his Katy Perry). The single remix is improved by Kendrick Lamar – but he wasn’t saving his A-game for this one.

Best line: “Band-Aids don’t fix bullet holes.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Santa Baby” (2007)

Yes, she made a Christmas album, which is full of contenders for the basement of this list. But an oldie about a gold digger wooing Little Saint Nick was perhaps a dubious pick for a singer still in her teens.

Best line: “I’ve been an awful good girl.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“A Place in This World” (2006)

Apprentice work from the debut, when she was still learning the ropes as a country songwriter. Yet, the seeds of greatness are already there. Historical significance: This was the song where Tay discovered rain imagery, which in her hands was the equivalent of Sir Isaac Newton inventing calculus.

Best line: “I’ll be strong/I’ll be wrong/Oh, but life goes on.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Christmas Must Be Something More” (2007)

A hymn about how Jesus is the reason for the season, with the hook, “So here’s to the birthday boy who saved our lives.” Unlike most boys Swift sings about, Jesus didn’t comment publicly.

Best line: “What would happen if God never let it snow?” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“I’m Only Me When I’m With You” (2006)

Could there be a less Swiftian sentiment? For better or worse, this girl is always herself. That’s kinda the point.

Best line: “I’m only up when you’re not down/Don’t wanna fly if you’re still on the ground.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Two Is Better Than One” With Boys Like Girls (2009)

A long, long, very long duet with former Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy tourmates Boys Like Girls, who are either from London or Nashville (they seem to switch accents at random).

Best line: “You’ve already got me coming…undone.” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Silent Night” (2007)

This bizarre version manages to miss almost every single note in the melody. They sure were in a rush to get this Christmas album out.

Best line: “Shepherds quake at the sight.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Both of Us” With B.o.B (2012)

Nice try at remaking “Airplanes,” but that Hayley Williams lightning does not strike twice.

Best line: “Your money’s all gone, and you lose your whip.” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“The Last Time” (Ft. Gary Lightbody) (2012)

Her duet with the guy from Snow Patrol. Unfortunately, their voices don’t mesh at all – what, is he auditioning for a Spandau Ballet tribute band? The funny moment is the très Eighties synth-horn blurp at the three-minute mark.

Best line: “This is the last time I’m asking you this/Put my name at the top of your list.” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“The Outside” (2006)

Still a rookie, still learning, still trying to get away with “read between the lines” and “the road less traveled by” in the same verse.

Best line: “Nothing seems to work the first few times/Am I right?”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Girl at Home” (2012)

A perfunctory cheating-is-bad homily, with barely any chorus.

Best line: “I feel a responsibility/To do what’s upstanding and right.” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Come in With the Rain” (2008)

She leaves her window open overnight, just in case her ex falls out of a cloud. There’s a great “oooh” in the second chorus – one of those moments you can tell she’s an Oasis fan. (This song makes you suspect “Don’t Look Back In Anger” is a fave.)

Best line: “I could stand up and sing you a song/But I don’t wanna have to go that far.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Half of My Heart” With John Mayer (2009)

The real prize from his Battle Studies album is “Heartbreak Warfare”; this is lesser J.M., with an underexploited T.S. cameo and an increasingly irritating premise of hearts having fingers, which they don’t. No wonder the girl in the dress cried the whole way home.

Best line: “Half of my heart’s got a grip on the situation.” 

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“The Other Side of the Door” (2008)

Again with the slamming doors. Tay, Tay – even the great songwriters can get away with exactly one slamming door per career. And just to be on the safe side, she throws in pouring rain, photo albums, a little black dress (which rhymes with “mess” and “confess”), a guy throwing pebbles at her window… In other words, this would be the ultimate Swift song – except there are over a hundred better ones.

Best line: “Me and my stupid pride are sitting here alone / Going through the photographs, staring at the phone.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Superman” (2010)

A Lois Lane fantasy, left off Speak Now for good reason.

Best line: “Tall, dark and beautiful/He’s complicated, he’s irrational.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Cold as You” (2006)

“I start a fight ’cause I need to feel something” – give her credit for honesty, even in this raw phase.

Best line: “Every smile you fake is so condescending.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“If This Was a Movie” (2010)

“Good evening, sir. May I help you? You’re a guy in a Taylor Swift song who wants to stand outside the window in the pouring rain, begging the love of your life to forgive your sorry ass? Take a number and get in line. No, that line.”

Best line: “But I’d take it all back now!”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“Sweeter Than Fiction” (2013)

A warm-up for the synth-pop of 1989, from the One Chance soundtrack.

Best line: “What a sight when the light came on.”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“A Perfectly Good Heart” (2006)

“It’s not unbroken anymore”? Paging the eminent cardiologist Dr. Toni Braxton.

Best line: “Why would you wanna make the very first scar?/Why would you wanna break a perfectly good heart?”

taylor swift 115 songs ranked list

“White Christmas” (2007)

Unlike “Silent Night,” this was a yuletide carol she could handle, with a straight-down-the-middle country rendition.

Best line: “Where the treetops glisten.”